November 5th, 2006


The perils of Parlay

Patri writes:

People have very poor intuitions about probability, and some current events give good examples. For example, let’s consider “The Islamist Threat", which makes Robert Bidonetto say: “National security is the only issue that truly matters these days; all else pales by comparison”. In order for it to truly be a problem worth governmental action now, we need the following confluence of events:

1) Radical Islam truly is a growing and evil movement, not just one that happens to be in the news these days because of Iraq.
2) Radical Islam continues to grow, while retaining its evilness
3) We can do something now to nip it in the bud (ie action now is worth much more than action later)
4) Our selfish, bureaucratic, incompetent government finds that something
5) That same government correctly implements the something

This is what’s known in the gambling world as a “Parlay” - meaning that a sequence of things must all be true. The final probability is P(1) * P(2 given 1) * P(3 given 1 and 2) etc. And as a skeptical libertarian, I am awfully suspicious of 4 and 5. Even if you convinced me that 1, 2, and 3 had an 80% chance each of being true, I would have a tough time seeing 4 and 5 as any higher than 50% each. Which leads to a final probability of 87.2% that government action now is a waste of money.

How to Stage a Coup, American-Style

Via amanda42,9171,1555119-1,00.html

Sunday, Nov. 5, 2006
How to Stage a Coup, American-Style
Libertarian activists are moving to a state where they'll have maximum clout

If Ron Helwig can join the revolution, then so can you. All you have to do is believe, as Helwig does, that the government has gone way too far in regulating your personal life, taxing your income and invading your privacy. And, of course, you have to move to New Hampshire.

That's exactly what the affable computer programmer from Minnesota did this year. He's a new member of the Free State Project, a group of like-minded libertarians from around the U.S. whose goal is to come together in the tiny New England state in sufficient numbers to create a libertarian showroom for the rest of the country.

Collapse )